May’s meteor shower peaking this weekend
The Eta Aquarids can be a solid shower
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - May’s meteor shower, and the second one to occur during the spring, will bring shooting stars this coming weekend. It’s called the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, and it will peak early in the morning on May 6th.
If you’re doing the math at home, that would this Friday night into very early Saturday. To have the best overall odds of seeing multiple meteors, it’s recommended to venture out between 3 a.m. and dawn.
If Friday night does not work for your schedule, the day before and day after also usually provide a solid showing.
The Eta Aquarids favor the Southern Hemisphere because the radiant point of the shower is higher in the sky south of the equator. Still, the southern U.S. can observe a solid showing if you’re patient.
In the Southern Hemisphere there can be 30 or more meteors per hour. In our part of the world in Alabama the rate is much lower, around 10-15 per hour. That’s under ideal viewing conditions.
Unfortunately this year’s Eta Aquarids will have to go up against plenty of moonlight. That will likely wash out many of the meteors zipping across the predawn skies. To make it even more difficult, Mother Nature may not play nice as clouds will likely be around.
Some breaks in the cloud cover are very possible. I just wouldn’t bank on Mother Nature cooperating everywhere in Alabama Friday night. It’ll be important to just follow along with the forecast and check cloud cover before deciding whether or not to venture out.
If you do choose to go out, pick a location far from any light pollution with an open view to the south. Give your eyes 30 minutes to adjust to total darkness and avoid looking at your phone. Be sure to allow a couple of hours to give yourself the best chance of seeing some meteors!
One really nifty trait of the Eta Aquarids is they are very fast. According to NASA, they zip across the night sky at a whopping 148,000 mph! As a result, they are known for leaving behind those glowing trains that last for seconds to even minutes.
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